PE Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland and beyond

Exergaming fad or “fit” for purpose

Posted by drilly on July 7, 2007

I mentioned the idea of using computer games in PE in a previous post and after reading Derek Robertsons post about a computer games Olympics I decided to revisit this to find out more information.  I found some interesting leads in this blog a couple in particular grabbed my attention. An American PE teacher set up a computer games tournament as an alternative to PE


“Last Friday, for my gym class’s Physical Fitness Final Exam, my teacher brought in 3 Wiis and an Xbox, all hooked up to LCD projectors projected on the walls of the gym. For 2 hours we had tournaments on 2 of the Wiis in Wii Sports, Wii Play, Excite Truck, and Wario Ware while others played Twilight Princess on another and DDR on the xbox. We were also given the option of playing basketball but all 20 people in my class were more interested in Wii”

I dont know if I am all that comfortable with the idea of these active games replacing genuine activities in a PE lesson. I would also question whether the children were being physicaly educated. However you can’t argue with the fact that the pupils find them engaging and I am certainly not writing off the use of this technology I just need to work out how it can be used to enhance the learning and teaching processes in physical education.

Erin Hoffman raises some interesting perspectives in her article Exergaming goes mainstream.

I am quite taken with the development of Dance Dance Reveloution (DDR) called Groove Motion DDR. It’s based off the company’s Dance Dance Revolution game, but includes six programs like yoga and martial arts-style exercises. While a DDR-type mat is used, GROOVE MOTION differs in that a motion sensor belt is worn. It calculates individual data like calories counted and “score.” I could see this being incorporated within a block of fitness or as part of an after school activity club though the cost of providing enough hardware for a class of 30 will probably be prohibitive. Though I dont think I will have to worry too much as it does not look like Konami are actually going to release it as a game they are probably going to use it within their own brand fitness clubs.


The idea of games forming a core constituent of a gym already exists in America Exergaming blends video games with workouts. The interactive exercise equipment appeals to kids. Will arcades be the gyms of the future? This article investigates the use of and highlights the virtues of using gaming technology in fitness clubs and gyms.

Sticking with the fitness theme I was particularly intrigued by the Wii sports fitness experiment In this research Mickey DeLorenzo wanted to investigate whether engaging in daily active gaming with a Nintendo Wii would have an impact on his health and fitness.


Mickey states “I decided to try out an experiment, where I would do everything I normally did, eat everything I normally ate and see if anything changes after playing 30 minutes of Wii Sports everyday for 6 weeks. If I miss a day, I’ll make a note of it and that weeks report.”

After completing the experiment DeLorenzo found: that he hald lost 9lbs in weight, his resting heart rate dropped from 81 to 68 bpm, his body mass index dropped from 25.2 to 24.0 and his waist dropped from 34.5 to 31 inches. Read the full article here his workout was so successful that he has now signed a book deal, “The Wii Workout”, and teamed up with to show off his workout.

I think we males owe Mickey an enormous debt of gratitude we now have the perfect excuse for our girlfriends and wives for playing games to our hearts content and indeed hearts benifit.

However  I think we need to proceed with caution, is his story to good to be true, losing all of that weight whilst continuing normal activity and eating habits, possibly not for Mickey but it sounds like he may be an anomaly.  A post on his website seems to be at odds with the viability of the claims “its takes 3500 kcal to burn 1 pound of fat. You lost 9 lbs. If your caloric energy balance remained unchanged this means you would have to burn 750 calories a day. I’m glad you lost weight and I’m glad you are motivating people to become more active but its unlikely that your results are typical.” Rocky’s fitness writer “she pointed out that he would have had to burn an extra 750 calories a day to lose that much weight that quickly without dieting. Looking through his calorie breakdown for each of the mini-games, it’s easy to see that simply wasn’t possible”

Ian Bogost also casts some doubt on the ability of these games to sustain an interest in physical activity in his article The missing social rituals of exergames.  He states “The rituals of sport as competitive social practice remain very strong among amateurs who golf, play tennis, box, or bowl for real. Sure, some of us may hit the course, the court, the ring, or the alley for exercise, but we return to these places thanks to the social rituals that surround them: everything from the locker room taunts to the scorecard handicap.” “To incite real, motivated physical activity, exergames will have to do more than just demanding physical gestures that produce latent exercise. In addition, they will have to simulate and create the social rituals that make us want to be physically active, whether alone or with others.”

I have to agree with this having played a number of sports and in particular Rugby the social aspects and interaction with team mates was a significantly important factor for me.  

3 Responses to “Exergaming fad or “fit” for purpose”

  1. […] Exergaming fad or “fit” for purpouse […]

  2. Dave said

    I’d love to get a wii, but haven’t sprung for it yet. I think a great alternative is a last gen system (XBOX, PS2) and a BodyPad controller.

    I’ve posted a blog with some videos using the the BodyPad fighting system. It’s similar to the Wii in that you can throw real punches to throw punches in-game, but different in that it works with PS2 and XBOX. It also allows for kicks so that you can control most fighting games.

    These are all games I own and play regularly with the BodyPad system. 19 games so far.
    – Capcom Classic Collection
    – Dead or Alive 3
    – Def Jam: Fight for NY
    – Dynasty Warriors 4
    – Fight Club
    – Fight Night 2004
    – Guilty Gear X2
    – Knockout Kings 2002
    – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    – Metal Slug 3
    – Midway Arcade Treasures 2
    – Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
    – Ninja Gaiden
    – Rocky
    – Rocky: Legends
    – Soul Caliber 2
    – Tao Feng
    – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles
    – X-Men Legends

    Check out the blog if interested. It really is a great workout and I think anyone using a Wii might enjoy this also…


  3. drilly said

    Thanks for the heads up on this Dave I was not aware of the body pads I am going to flag this up to my colleague in LTS who is looking at gaming in education.

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